How Mortgages Can Affect Your Credit Score

How Mortgages Can Affect Your Credit Score

Taking out a home mortgage can be one of the biggest financial decisions you make. While some people can, it’s uncommon to pay for a house entirely with cash. Most people put some money as a down payment and then take out a mortgage for the rest of their home’s purchase price. But before you sign on the dotted line, you’ll want to make sure you understand how a mortgage affects your credit score.

The good news is that, as long as you regularly make your mortgage payment on time, having a mortgage can help your credit score. You may see a slight negative impact to your credit when you first apply for a mortgage, since the lender will likely pull your credit report. But after that, your mortgage will generally have a positive impact on your credit score, assuming you’re consistently making on-time payments.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due?

Does Having a Mortgage Help Credit Score?

One of the mortgage basics is that in exchange for an upfront payment (generally used to purchase a home), you’ll make regular monthly payments to your lender for a specified period of time (often 30 years). Having a mortgage on your credit report can help your credit score in two ways. First of all, making your mortgage payments on time each month helps show a positive payment history. Another way that having a mortgage can help your credit is by diversifying your credit mix, which is another factor that makes up your credit score.

How Mortgage Application Impacts Credit Score

The process of applying for a mortgage can impact your credit score in a variety of different ways. Here’s a closer look.

Situations Where It May Hurt Your Credit

When you apply for a mortgage, your lender will usually do a hard pull on your credit report to assess your overall creditworthiness. The number of recent inquiries on your credit report is a negative contributing factor to your credit score, so you’ll want to limit the number you make within a certain window of time. One way to do this is to wait to apply for a mortgage until you are sure you have a sufficient credit score needed to buy a house.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit?

Situations Where It May Help Your Credit

It can be smart when applying for a mortgage to work with different lenders to find the right lender for your situation. One piece of good news is that multiple mortgage-related inquiries in a short period of time usually will only count as one inquiry. So if you’re working on establishing credit, you won’t need to worry about multiple inquiries from different mortgage lenders pulling your credit report, as long as they’re all within the same window of time.

How a Mortgage Can Affect Your Credit

Beyond applying, there are a number of ways that having a mortgage can affect your credit. When you get a mortgage it can help your credit score, but it can also hurt it.

Hard Inquiry When You Apply

One of the factors that makes up your credit score is the number of recent hard inquiries you have. Any time a potential lender conducts a hard pull of your credit report, it can cause a temporary drop in your credit score by a few points. This drop usually goes away after a few months, but it’s something to be aware of.

Paying Your Mortgage On Time

One of the biggest factors that affects your credit score is your payment history. So if you have a mortgage and regularly pay it each month, that can make a positive contribution to your credit score. This is one reason it’s important to make sure that you don’t take out a mortgage that you’ll have trouble paying each month.

Late Or Missed Mortgage Payments

Because your payment history is such a big part of what makes up your credit score, late or missed mortgage payments can have a large negative impact on your score. Potential lenders look at your credit report to get an idea of how likely you are to repay your debt obligations, so having late or missed payments can be a red flag to future lenders.

Improving Your Credit Mix

A lesser-known but still important part of what makes up for your credit score is your overall credit mix. Generally, it’s considered a positive sign if you have a variety of different types of loans on your credit report. This includes credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, personal loans, etc. Adding a mortgage to a credit report that doesn’t have one helps diversify your credit mix.

Changing Your Average Age of Accounts

Another factor that makes up your credit score is your overall average age of accounts. Potential lenders like to see a lengthy history of you responsibly using the credit that’s been issued to you. So while initially a new mortgage will lower your overall average age of accounts, over time it will work in your favor.

Recommended: Tips to Qualify for a Mortgage

Tips for Building Your Credit Score After Buying a House

After you’ve bought your house, here are a few tips to continue building your credit:

•   Pay your mortgage in full and on time, each and every month.

•   Continue to pay your other debts (like credit cards and student loans) on time each month as well.

•   Keep an emergency fund to ensure you can still meet your debt obligations (including your mortgage) even when the unexpected happens.

•   Make sure you save enough money to pay your home insurance and property taxes (if your mortgage isn’t escrowed).

•   Regularly review your credit report for unexpected or inaccurate information.

•   Increase your credit utilization ratio by raising credit limits and limiting debt.

•   Limit your new credit inquiries as much as possible.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

The Takeaway

Having a mortgage can affect your credit score in a variety of ways, but most of them are positive. While you will likely see a small temporary drop in your credit score due to the hard pull from your mortgage lender, that should go away after a few months. Then, as long as you regularly pay your mortgage on time each month, you should hopefully see a positive impact on your credit score from having a mortgage.

Another great way to build your credit can be by responsibly using a credit card. Many credit cards, like the SoFi Credit Card, also offer cashback rewards for everyday usage. If you’re approved for the SoFi Credit Card, you can earn unlimited cash-back rewards. You can use those rewards as a statement credit, invest them in fractional shares, or put them toward other financial goals you might have, like paying down eligible SoFi debt.

FAQ

How long does it take for your credit score to go up after buying a house?

When you get a mortgage (or any type of loan), the potential lender will likely do a hard pull of your credit report. Because the number of recent inquiries you have is a factor that makes up your credit score, this hard pull may temporarily drop your credit score. The good news is that it usually only drops by a couple of points, and even that small effect usually goes away after a couple of months.

How long should I wait after closing to make another big purchase?

You want to be careful about making large purchases or applying for any other credit before you are approved for a loan. This is because your lender and underwriter will be digging into your credit report in detail to make sure your overall financial situation is sound, and they’ll want to know about anything out of the ordinary. After you close on your mortgage, you don’t need to be as careful about making another big purchase, as long as it fits into your overall financial picture.

What credit score is needed to get a mortgage?

There isn’t a specific credit score that’s needed to get a mortgage. Instead, each lender will have its own criteria for approving mortgages. Your overall credit score, your total down payment, and the house itself will all play a role in whether you’re approved, and at what interest rate.


Photo credit: iStock/sturti



Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.



Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


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Do Monthly Subscriptions Help Build Your Credit Score?

Do Monthly Subscriptions to Digital Services Help Build Your Credit Score?

If you’re wondering, “do monthly subscriptions build credit?,” the answer is that it depends. You’re most likely going to build credit if your payment activity is reported to the three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — or if you use certain payment methods like a credit card.

If you’re hoping to build credit with subscriptions, however, there are certain steps that you can take to help ensure that happens.

What Are Monthly Digital Service Subscriptions?

Monthly digital service subscriptions are a cost that you pay each month to access a service, such as online streaming for TV shows, movies, and music. It can also include subscriptions to software, including for photo editing, audiobooks, online classes, and ebooks.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score?

How Monthly Subscription Services Can Help Build Your Credit

Subscription services can help you build your credit if your payment activity is reported to the credit bureaus. You can ensure this happens by using your credit card to pay your bills or signing up for a service that reports your payment activity to the credit bureaus.

When your payment activity is reported to the credit bureaus, your monthly payments for subscription services will appear on your credit report. This can lead to either a positive or negative effect on your credit. If you miss a payment, your score could be negatively impacted, whereas on-time payments could have a positive effect.

As such, here’s a trick for ensuring that on-time payment consistently happens: setting up automatic payments.

Strategically Using Automatic Payments

Setting up automated bill payments is how you’ll most likely pay for subscription services. To make strides toward building credit, however, there are some ways you can set up your automatic payments more effectively:

•   Automatically pay with your credit card: When signing up for a subscription service, you’ll be asked for a method of payment. The simplest option is to pay using your credit card, and authorize recurring charges. Of course, you can do so using your debit card (depending on the company) or by providing your banking details. But unless you sign up for a credit reporting service, your payment history most likely won’t be reported to the credit bureaus without selecting your credit card as the payment method

•   Automatically pay your credit card from your bank account: To ensure you’re paying your credit card bill on time, consider setting up automatic payments from your bank account. That way, you’ll decrease the likelihood of missing a payment deadline. If the charge is paid on time, you’ll also get the benefit of avoiding interest charges, which is one way to save on streaming services.

If you follow these tips, it’s smart to periodically check the subscription rates to ensure your automatic payment amount matches up with what you’re currently being charged. Also check your bank account to make sure you have enough funds for the payment to go through on time.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card?

Other Ways to Build Credit

There are other methods to establish credit other than through subscription services. Here are some additional or alternative methods to consider:

•   Secured credit cards: A secured credit card is generally more accessible to those who have no or limited credit history. You’ll need to make a refundable deposit that acts as your credit line — so if you put $500 down, you’d get a $500 credit line. Otherwise, you can use a secured credit card as you would a traditional credit card by making purchases and paying down the balance each month. Depending on the credit card issuer, you may be able to be eligible to upgrade to an unsecured credit card or request one after making consistent on-time payments for a set number of months.

•   Credit builder loans: These types of loans are designed to help consumers build credit. Once you’re approved for a loan, you’ll start to pay it back in installments. But instead of receiving the loan proceeds right away, the funds will be housed in a savings account until you pay back the loan in full.

•   Personal loans: If you need funding right away, such as for a home improvement project, you can consider taking out a more traditional loan, as there are lenders who are willing to work with those who have a limited credit history. Keep in mind that interest rates could be higher compared to someone with more established credit, so make sure you can afford the loan and make on-time payments before taking one out.

•   Secured loans: Like secured credit cards, secured loans require you to put down some sort of collateral. These can include physical assets, such as a car (like auto loans) or cash (some banks offer loans that you secure with your savings account). Interest rates may be more favorable than unsecured loans.

•   Paying rent: Your landlord — especially if it’s a larger property management company — may report your payment activity to the credit bureaus, even if you don’t use your credit card to pay. Otherwise, there are reporting services (much like the ones mentioned above) that will report your payments to the credit bureaus to help you build your credit.

Recommended: Tips for Building Credit

The Takeaway

Your monthly subscription services could serve as a path toward building credit, as long as your payment activity gets reported to the credit bureaus. You can ensure this happens by either paying your subscription with a credit card or signing up for a service that reports your payments to the credit bureaus. In either case, you’ll need to make sure you’re handling your subscription service payments responsibly in order to help establish your credit.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.

FAQ

Is it good to put subscriptions on your credit card?

You can put charges for subscriptions on your credit card if you’re looking to build credit. Just make sure you’re exhibiting positive credit behavior by consistently making on-time payments.

What credit card is best for subscriptions?

There is no one credit card that is best for subscriptions. Whether it’s a secured or unsecured credit card, what matters is whether you make consistent, on-time payments. The credit card you choose will also depend on what you find important. For example, if you’re interested in earning travel rewards, then consider picking a credit that allows you to do so.

Does paying multiple times a month increase your credit score?

Making multiple monthly payments toward your credit card bill will reduce the amount of credit you’re using. In other words, you’ll lower your credit utilization — a comparison between your total credit limit and how much credit you’re using — which could be a positive contributing factor in your credit.


Photo credit: iStock/simpson33

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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Does Getting Married Affect Your Credit Score?

Does Getting Married Affect Your Credit Score?

Marriage doesn’t directly affect your credit scores since you and your spouse will each still maintain separate credit histories. However, both of your credit histories can affect any shared accounts and future possibilities of taking out a loan together.

Or, if you live in a community property state and take out loans after getting married, both of you could be responsible for that debt. Let’s take a look at what happens to your credit when you get married.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score?

What if Your Spouse Has a Bad Credit Score?

First off, your credit won’t directly be impacted once you get married, since your marital status doesn’t show up on your credit reports.

If either of you had loans before you got hitched, then they’ll simply remain on your respective credit reports. Same goes for any individual loans you take out after you’re married. One notable exception is if you were to apply for loans together, like a mortgage. In this case, the rates and terms you may qualify for could be less competitive because your spouse doesn’t have a good credit score.

Or, it could be that if you were to open a credit card with both your names on it (or an account where one person is the primary cardholder and the other is an authorized user on a credit card), both of your financial behaviors will affect your future credit score. Say your spouse has a history of late payments, which would have a major impact on their credit score. If they were to miss a payment on your joint account, then both your credit scores could be affected, since your name is also on the account.

If possible, it’s best to discuss the pros and cons of joint accounts and other financial matters with your spouse. This includes coming up with a plan to help them build their score before you apply for joint loans.

Tips for Building Your Credit Score With Aid from Your Spouse

If either you or your spouse wants to build credit, here are some best practices for doing so:

•   Review your credit report: Checking your credit history reports from all three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) can give you some insight into what is affecting your score. That way, you can use those insights to change your financial behavior. Plus, if there are any errors that may affect your score, checking your credit report will help you spot and dispute them.

•   Continue to make on-time payments: Paying your credit card bills on time is a major factor that affects your score. Doing so consistently signals to lenders you’re being responsible with credit.

•   Hold off on opening new accounts: Each time you apply for a loan, a hard inquiry will occur, which could temporarily affect your score. Too many hard inquiries within a short period of time could signal to lenders that you’re stretched thin financially and need to rely on credit. As such, be mindful about when and how often you’re applying for new accounts.

•   Request a credit limit increase on your credit cards: Credit utilization is another major factor affecting credit scores. It looks at the overall credit limit of your revolving accounts (like credit cards) compared to your overall balance. If you can increase your credit limit, it could lower your credit utilization, which is favorable for your credit score. Another option is to apply for a new credit card, like the SoFi cash-back rewards credit card, though only if you’re certain your credit can afford the slight dip from a hard inquiry.

Will Changing Your Name Affect Your Credit?

Changing your name to your spouse’s after you’re married won’t affect your credit. However, it will result in an update to your credit report. The major credit bureaus should update your credit report automatically once lenders start reporting your credit activity using your new name. When this happens, your old name will remain on your credit history but as an alias.

To ensure your new name gets reported on your credit report, you’ll need to notify your lenders. It’s also a good idea to update your name with the Social Security Administration and any other relevant official entities.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit?

How Cosigning a Credit Card With a Spouse Can Impact Your Score

Becoming a cosigner means you’re legally agreeing to be responsible for the other party’s debt. In other words, acting as a cosigner can affect your score positively or negatively, depending on your spouse’s financial behavior.

For example, if your spouse consistently makes on-time payments and keeps their credit utilization low, then your credit score could be positively affected. However, if they make late payments or worse, the account gets sent to collections, your score and theirs could take a hit. Still, you might decide it’s worth the risk if you’re hoping to help your spouse establish credit.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due?

Do You Share Debt When You Get Married?

Any debt that you or your spouse had before you got married will remain each of your own responsibilities. Once you’re married, however, any joint debts are shared. Whether debt that’s only taken out in one person’s name is considered shared debt will depend on what state you reside in.

If you live in any of the following community property states, both you and your spouse will be responsible for all debts acquired during the time you’re married — even if they’re not joint ones:

•   Arizona

•   California

•   Idaho

•   Louisiana

•   Nevada

•   New Mexico

•   Texas

•   Washington

•   Wisconsin

•   Alaska (residents can opt into community property laws)

If you’re unsure of what you and your spouses’ responsibilities are, or if you have any concerns related to marriage and credit scores, it’s best to seek the advice of a legal expert.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Should You Join Your Credit Accounts After Getting Married?

Merging your credit accounts is a decision that only you and your spouse can make, and it will require a discussion about your expectations and basic credit card rules. One of the main benefits of merging your accounts is the ability to simplify your finances. Doing so could make it easier to keep records and compile documentation for tax returns.

However, if you will both be responsible for debt, both of your credit scores could be affected if either one misses a payment, for example. You can consider keeping one credit account in each of your names in case of an emergency though, even if you do decide to merge your accounts. And whether you’re choosing a joint bank account or a joint credit card account, make sure to shop around and compare your options.

Recommended: Comparing Joint and Separate Bank Accounts in Marriage

Discussing Credit With Your Spouse Before Marriage

Communication is key in your relationship, even before you’re married. It’s crucial that you have a detailed conversation with your partner about both of your financial situations. This includes any debt incurred, as well as any behavior that could negatively affect your finances. After all, it’s ‘til death do us part (and here’s a look at what happens to credit card debt when you die).

To help prepare for your financial future together, consider discussing plans you have that may involve the need to rely on your credit, such as buying a house. That way, if either of you doesn’t have an ideal credit score, you can come up with a plan to work on it together.

The Takeaway

One of the keys to a successful marriage is understanding how each other’s financial situation — including credit behavior — can affect the other person. Whether you open an individual or joint credit account, it keeps both of you in the loop so you’re working as a team.

If you’re looking for a new credit card to level up your financial situation, consider the SoFi credit card. With the SoFi credit card, you can earn cash-back rewards, apply them toward your balance, redeem points for stock in a SoFi Active Invest account, and more.

FAQ

Do lenders look at both spouses’ credit scores?

Lenders will look at both spouses’ credit scores if they’re applying for a loan jointly. Otherwise, if you only want one name on the account, the lender will only look at that person’s credit.

Can credit be denied based on marital status?

Credit issuers and lenders are not allowed to deny credit based on your marital status. This is due to protections offered by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act against discrimination when applying for credit.

What happens if I marry someone with low credit?

You won’t be directly affected, as your individual credit report is still yours. However, it could impact your score if you apply for credit jointly and your spouse doesn’t handle the shared account responsibly. It could also impact you in terms of what joint loans you may be able to qualify for, as well as what terms you receive.

Does my spouse’s debt merge with mine?

Any debt that you and your spouse have before marriage will remain separate. You’ll share debts if you have joint loans. In some community property states, both spouses are considered responsible for all debts acquired during the marriage, even if only one name is on them.


Photo credit: iStock/LightFieldStudios




Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

This article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice.

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Does a Gas Credit Card Help Build Your Credit Score?

Does a Gas Credit Card Help Build Your Credit Score?

If you’re attempting to build credit from scratch, a gas credit card can help. That’s because, similar to other types of credit cards, gas credit cards report your payments to the three major credit reporting bureaus. Further, gas cards are good for building credit because they tend to be easier to get approved for than other types of cards.

On top of that, a gas credit card can allow you to save on gas by earning discounts and fuel credits when you fill up your tank and use your card to pay for transactions. Here’s all you need to know about gas credit cards, including how to get a gas card to build credit.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Understanding Gas Credit Cards and How They Work

A gas credit card works similarly as other types of credit cards in that it offers access to a revolving line of credit. In other words, you have a credit limit that’s set ahead of time. You can borrow up to that limit, and then repay the debt over time through monthly payments. If you carry a balance from month to month, you’ll pay interest.

There are two main types of gas credit cards:

•   Gas station co-branded credit cards: Also known as a single-purpose or closed-loop card, a gas station co-branded credit card is a card that you can only use to make purchases from a single company. In this case, you could only use the card when you pump gas from a particular gas or oil company, which the card will usually bear the logo of.

•   General-purpose gas credit cards: A traditional gas credit card can be used when you fill up at any gas station, rather than only with one particular brand — marking the difference between gas cards vs. gas station credit cards.

As mentioned, gas credit cards can be a good way to build credit when you’re starting from scratch. Keep in mind that the best rates, terms, and rewards offerings generally are reserved for consumers with strong credit. That being said, some gas cards are easier to get approved for, especially those from a particular oil company or brand.

Another benefit of gas credit cards is that they can offer discounts per gallon or an introductory promotional period where you can receive additional discounts at the pump. For instance, a co-branded gas credit card might offer 30 cents back on each gallon for the first two months after you open an account, and then 10 cents back per gallon after that.

Some general-purpose gas credit cards might also feature rewards, like cash back on everyday purchases up to a certain amount per year.

Tips for Building Credit with a Gas Credit Card

Are you wondering, does a gas card build credit? The answer is yes. Because gas credit cards report your activity and payment history to the three major consumer credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — using one can be a good way to help you establish credit when you’re starting out on your credit journey.

For a gas card to build credit, however, you’ll need to stick to the following credit best practices.

Choose a Card Carefully

If you decide to open a gas credit card, carefully review the terms, rates, and fees. Gas credit cards typically have high interest rates compared to other types of cards, so if you anticipate carrying a balance, you could end up paying a pretty penny on interest charges.

While many gas credit cards don’t carry an annual fee, you might get hit with late fees, balance transfer fees, and returned payment fees. Make sure you’re aware of what fees a gas credit card may charge so you can avoid them.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card?

Pay the Full Balance Each Month

Your payment history makes up the bulk of your FICO credit score — 35%, to be exact. As such, it’s important to make your payments on time, each and every month.

And if possible, you might also aim to pay off your balance in full each month, which will allow you to avoid paying interest on your gas credit card. To do this, set a limit for how much you want to spend on your gas credit card each month and stick to it.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due?

Don’t Spend Up to the Credit Limit

Another factor that influences your credit score is your credit utilization, which is how much of your overall credit limit you’re currently using. It’s generally suggested to keep this ratio at no more than 30% to avoid adverse effects to your credit score. If you were to spend up to your credit limit, that would likely drive up your credit utilization well about that recommended threshold.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score?

Keep Track of Your Credit Score

Monitoring your credit score can help you pinpoint behaviors that can move your credit score up or down, as well as notice any red flags. By keeping an eye on your credit, you can better make adjustments to your habits and spending to ensure you’re making progress on building your credit score.

You can keep track of your credit score in a handful of ways, including by signing up for a free credit monitoring service or possibly through your credit card issuer. For instance, the cash-back rewards credit card that SoFi offers provides free credit score monitoring to cardholders.

Advantages of Building Credit With Gas Cards

Gas cards absolutely can be good for building credit, and here are the benefits of using one to do so:

•   Savings on gas: A major perk — and the one that is most apparent — is that you can receive discounts at the pump by using a gas credit card.

•   Potentially easier approval: A gas credit card can have easier approval requirements than other types of cards, such as rewards credit cards. This can make it easier to get credit, and therefore start building your credit.

•   Rewards and sign-up bonuses: Gas credit cards might offer rewards, perhaps just on your spending at the pump or more generally across purchases, depending on the type of gas credit card. Some gas credit cards offer a sign-up bonus if you meet a minimum spending requirement within the first few months.

Drawbacks of Building Credit With Gas Cards

There are downsides to using gas cards to build credit as well, including:

•   Potentially restricted use: If you get approved for a credit card that you can only use when you fill up at a gas station from a single gas or oil company, it might take you a bit more work and planning to use your card. That being said, there are some more general use gas cards available.

•   Higher interest rates: If you’re building your credit from scratch and are approved for a card with less stringent financial or credit criteria, this can mean higher interest rates and less generous or attractive card perks.

•   Limits on earnings and rewards programs: While some gas cards do offer rewards, they’re usually not as robust as they would be with other types of credit cards. Plus, many gas cards have a cap on how much you can earn in rewards in a given year.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit?

The Takeaway

A gas credit card could be a strong option if you are looking for a credit card with easier approval requirements to take a step toward building credit. Before deciding, consider the advantages and drawbacks of getting a gas card to build credit.

Another option might be a general rewards card, like the SoFi credit card. This way, you won’t be restricted on where you can use your credit card. Plus, the SoFi credit card offers unlimited cash-back rewards on all eligible purchases, among other perks.

FAQ

Are gas cards worth it?

Gas cards can be worth it if you are looking for a credit card with less stringent approval criteria and are trying to establish credit. Many don’t have annual fees, so if you’re able to pay the balance in full each month, it could be worth opening. Plus, you might be able to save at the pump.

Are gas cards good for building credit?

Gas cards can be good for building credit as they do report your activity and payment history to the credit bureaus. However, in order for them to help with your credit, you must maintain responsible credit habits, like making on-time payments and maintaining a reasonable credit utilization ratio.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Is it better to use a fuel card or a credit card?

It depends on what you typically use your credit card for, as well as what cards you’re able to get approved for. If you would like a card that you can use only for gas and would like to rack up gas savings, then a fuel could be a good fit. Another type of credit card, such as a cash-back or travel rewards credit card, could offer you different perks. However, they might be harder to get approved for.

Do gas cards save you money?

Gas credit cards can shave a few dollars at the gas pump in the way of discounts and promotions. Some cards offer cash-back rewards, usually up to a certain amount per year.


Photo credit: iStock/Talaj




Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Can You Buy a Car with a Credit Card?

You can buy a car with a credit card in certain circumstances, or at least cover a portion of the purchase, such as the down payment. However, it’s likely not a good idea. That’s because you’ll face high credit card interest charges and potentially fees, and you’ll drive up your credit utilization (that is, if your credit limit is even high enough to cover a car purchase).

Before swiping your card for a new set of wheels, pause to ask yourself whether this is really the best way for you to purchase your vehicle. There are alternative options to help you purchase a car that may not cost you to the same extent.

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What to Know About Buying a Car With a Credit Card

In short, the benefits of using a credit card to buy a car will likely outweigh the perks. That being said, it is possible to do — assuming you can find a dealership that will accept credit card payments for car purchases. Not all dealerships do, and many that do will tack on a fee for credit card payments.

Perhaps the biggest draw to buying a car with a credit card is the potential to earn rewards. You might also be able to take advantage of a promotional offer that features 0% interest for a limited period of time. But be sure to consider those perks against the risks. If you don’t pay off your full balance before interest kicks in, you’ll be paying at a high rate — much steeper than car loans, for instance. You also could do damage to your credit if you’re late on payments or if your automobile purchase eats up too much of your credit limit.

Buying a Car With a Credit Card

If, after considering the drawbacks, you decide you want to use a credit card to buy a card, here’s a step-by-step look at how to do so.

1. See if the Dealership Takes Credit Card Purchases

You’ve decided how much you want to spend on a new car, and you’ve negotiated a fair price with a dealer. But before slapping down your plastic to purchase a new or used car, you’ll first need to check with your car dealership to verify that they accept credit card purchases. Additionally, you’ll need to find out which cards they accept and how much of the total purchase price they will allow you to charge.

If you go to a dealer that won’t accept credit card purchases, or that limits the amount, you’ll have to decide whether to pay another way or to go to another place that sells the car you want and allows credit card purchases.

2. Check Your Credit Limit To Determine if It’s High Enough

If you’ve selected a car at a dealership that takes credit card payments, your next step is to check your credit limit to determine whether it’s high enough to use one card. You may need to spread out the purchase across multiple cards.

If your combined limits aren’t enough, you could pay the difference with a cashier’s check and still reap some of the rewards available through credit card use. Or, you could ask your credit card companies to increase your credit limits.

3. Notify Your Credit Company

It makes sense to notify your credit card companies that you intend to use your credit cards to make a large purchase. If you don’t regularly make large purchases on your credit cards, the transaction might get flagged as potentially fraudulent and could get declined.

4. Get Strategic With Credit Card Rewards and Promos

At a car dealership that does let you pay for a car with a credit card — or at least a portion of it — you might consider using a card that offers credit card rewards. If you have cash to pay the charge before it starts accruing interest, you’re basically getting a no-interest, short-term loan while taking advantage of credit card perks.

5. Determine How You’ll Pay Off Your Balance in Time

Before handing over your credit card to buy a car, make sure you know how you’ll pay off your balance. Ideally, you’ll pay it off in full by the statement due date, so as to avoid accruing interest on what’s likely already a hefty charge. Or, if your credit card has a 0% introductory APR offer that you’re taking advantage of, determine how you’ll pay off the full balance before the standard interest rate kicks in and interest charges start accruing.

If you’re not sure you can pay off your car before interest kicks in, you might reconsider whether you realistically can use a credit card to buy a car. Instead, you might consider ways to save money on your car purchase, such as buying a high-mileage car or weighing the cost of leasing vs. buying a car.

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Why Some Car Dealers Don’t Accept Credit Cards

On the surface, it might seem odd that auto dealers wouldn’t accept credit cards. Afterall, they want to make a sale, right? Of course they do, but, like other merchants, auto dealers must pay credit card processing fees for each credit card transaction they make. These fees tend to be around 2%, and they can add up pretty quickly when you consider that cars can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. By rejecting credit cards, dealers can save themselves the expense and hassle of paying these fees.

If a dealer that normally doesn’t allow credit card purchases makes an exception, expect them to tack on convenience fees of 2% to 4% to help them cover the cost of the transaction. Pay close attention to these fees because they may offset any benefit you might gain from using a rewards card.

How Much Will Buying a Car With a Credit Card Cost You?

The cost to buy a car with a credit card can exceed the vehicle’s sticker price. For one, it’s likely that you’ll see a convenience fee added to your bill. Some dealerships may have this already baked into their prices, but for others that don’t commonly accept credit cards, they’ll add it on themselves to cover their processing costs. Typically, convenience fees run anywhere from 2% to 4% of the purchase amount, which may be enough to offset any credit card rewards you’d earn.

Second, your costs could increase thanks to interest charges. If you buy a car with a credit card and then don’t immediately pay off the full statement balance, interest can start to accrue. Average credit card interest annual percentage rates (APRs) are around 16.44%. That can start adding up fast on a car purchase that’s likely in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Pros of Car Buying With a Credit Card

Under certain circumstances, using a credit card to buy a vehicle may be a strategy you’d consider, especially if you have enough money to pay off the balance in full when your statement comes. Here’s a look at the upsides to buying a car with a credit card.

Fast and Easy Way to Buy a Car

With a credit card, you’ll have a fast and easy way to purchase your car of choice. You can skip the hassle of filling out loan paperwork and waiting to find out if you’re approved.

Potential to Earn Rewards

By purchasing a car with a credit card, you may earn rewards — something you wouldn’t get if you simply used a cashier’s check to buy the car. But before you get too swept up in your purchase’s rewards potential, see if the amount you’ll earn in rewards will offset how much you may end up paying in fees or interest.

Take Advantage of a Zero-Interest Promo

You may have slightly longer to pay off your purchase if you use a no-interest credit card. Often, these 0% interest offers last for a certain period of time, usually anywhere from six to 21 months. In order to avoid interest payments, you must finish paying off your vehicle in that time period. Still, it offers a little leeway.

Keep in mind that this strategy may be riskier than paying off your full balance immediately though. If, for some reason, you can’t pay off the balance within the introductory no-interest period due to unforeseen circumstances, the card will revert to its regular rate, which may be quite high. Should that happen, the situation can go downhill from there. Some credit card companies will then charge the full interest rate on the entire purchase, not just on the remaining balance.

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Cons of Car Buying With a Credit Card

In contrast to the few upsides, there are a number of major drawbacks to turning to your credit card to make a car purchase.

High Credit Card Interest Rates

The biggest reason not to buy a car with your credit card is that credit card interest rates are typically much higher than other available options. The average credit card APR is 16.44%. In contrast, the average interest rate for an auto loan to purchase a new car is close to 4%, while for used cars it’s over 8%.

Credit Card Fees

You also might get stuck with some costly fees by buying a car with a credit card. For starters, there’s the previously mentioned fee that the dealership will likely charge you for the convenience of using your credit card. Convenience fees typically run 2% to 4% of the purchase amount.

That’s not the only fee you might run into either. For example, let’s say that your strategy is to purchase a car on your current credit cards, then transfer the balance to a zero-interest credit card. Besides the challenges listed above, you may add balance transfer fees to the mix. These fees can be as high as 5%, which, on a $20,000 car, is $1,000.

Potential to Harm Your Credit Score

Another major downside of purchasing a car with a credit card is that it can majorly increase your credit utilization, which accounts for 30% of your FICO score. With the price of a car, it can be easy to push your credit utilization ratio way past the recommended 30%, which could translate to negative effects to your credit.

Further, if you miss payments or are late making them, that could lead to further damage to your credit score.

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No Addition to Your Credit Mix

Here’s something else to consider: Having different kinds of debt can actually help with your credit score. So using an installment loan, such as a traditional auto loan, to buy your car instead of a credit card may be helpful to your overall long-term financial situation. And if you have a good enough credit score to get approved for an auto loan with lower interest rates than the average credit card interest rate, you’ll come out ahead.

Other Options for Buying a Car

While technically you can pay for a car with a credit card, it might not be your best option. Here are a couple of alternatives to consider.

Auto Loan

If you decide to finance some or all or all of your auto purchase, you can apply for a car loan through the dealership or other lenders. Auto loans are typically secured loans that use the vehicle as collateral. So, if you fail to make payments, your lender has the option to repossess the vehicle to cover some of your debt.

Dealers are often able to get same-day financing approved, but there may be some pressure to buy while the salesperson takes advantage of your excitement. Banks and private lenders may take longer to approve an application, but sometimes offer better deals on terms or interest rates. Taking emotion out of the equation when buying a car will allow you to compare rates and terms to get the best deal for your financial situation.

Personal Loan

You may also want to consider buying a car with a personal loan, which is an unsecured loan that’s not backed by collateral. Personal loans can be used to cover many expenses, including the cost of buying a car. Because they are unsecured, interest rates on personal loans may be higher than other auto financing options, depending on the applicant’s creditworthiness.

The Takeaway

While you can buy a car with a credit card, you may not necessarily want to now that you’re aware of all of the potential pitfalls. But if you find a dealership that accepts credit card payments and you decide it’s the best path for you, make sure to take the necessary steps of checking in on your credit limit, alerting your credit card company, and making a plan for prompt repayment.

It might be better to select another option to cover your car purchase, and reserve your credit card for other spending. With the SoFi credit card, for example, you can earn generous cash-back rewards that you can then use to invest, save, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.

FAQ

Do car dealers accept credit cards?

It depends. Many dealers won’t accept credit cards due to the processing fees they’d incur, but some do. In those cases, dealers may pass the cost along to the consumer in the form of a convenience fee.

Can you use a credit card for a car down payment?

It’s more common for dealers to allow you to use a credit card to use a credit card to pay for a portion of your purchase, such as your down payment, as opposed to the entire car purchase. Still, some dealers won’t accept credit cards at all.

Is it better to pay for a car with a credit card or loan?

It’s likely better to use a loan to pay for a credit card. That’s because loans tend to have significantly lower interest rates than credit cards.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.





Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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